Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Exercising my Option

According to the USDF rules, braiding your horse for shows is "optional." That means that you may do so, or you may not, it is up to you. A judge can not deduct points for an unbraided mane or tail. The unwritten rule, according to those "in the know", is that you should always braid your horse. A real DQ (Dressage Queen) braids!

I am not a real DQ apparently, as I have no plans on braiding Pippi for any show. She was blessed with the thickest, longest, shiniest most beautiful mane and tail, and I consider it sacrilege to cut, pull, or in any way constrict that gift.
Oh-we did, for years! When Pippi was Miranda's partner, her mane was kept short, and braided for shows, and I grumbled. The moment Pippi and I were sent lose together, she became a long haired Hippie and together we are rejecting conventional values and letting that hair flow.

Although I have all kinds of reasons for why this is a stand that I am choosing to take, it really comes down to what I like, what Pippi likes and what I think is a valuable use of our time. I have had a range of reactions, but most of them are "that's just how its done." "There is a standard that one must agree to, and braiding is part of the deal in showing your horse." Or something to that effect.
Or I hear that it shows the horses neck better when braided. Or that is shows respect for the judge. Most times I am met with incredulity, like "why even show your horse if you refuse to play by the rules?" (The rule is that it is "optional.")

Sure, I will admit it, I am very much the non-conformist when it comes to arbitrary societal pressure. When I think something is a waste of energy and time, I will not comply. I would much rather spend my time (of which we all have way too little) giving Pippi a massage, playing a game with her, and/or grazing around the showgrounds getting used to the sights and sounds of our new surroundings. I'd much rather that she and I get a bit more rest, and feel calm, happy and excited.

So many times I hear from fellow riders "Omg - I still have to braid! Eeek!" and watch them scurry off to tug, pull and tie away. Sure, many of them seem to like it, and most of horses just stand around munching hay and taking it all in stride. It's all part of the sacred showtime rituals they enjoy, and that gets them ready to tackle the day.
But for me, all that jazz just makes me feel constricted, and stressed. I don't like it. Maybe not braiding is a reminder for me to take it easy. This is for fun, not to be taken too seriously. It reminds me that Pippi and I are doing our own thing, and that this is for the two of us. We want to do our best, we ride and practice hard and often, but our best is only achieved through us being free flowing, and us.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have no barriers, no screen for the words that fall out of my mouth. I am rude, crude, but socially acceptable. Often I shock myself, but I am always Me; free flowing, off the charts, happy-go-lucky, get it done, no frills me!

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